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Stuff We Didn’t Learn in School

In conversations about important life skills, it’s not unusual to consider useful additions to a school’s curriculum.

02-21 Mendocino Spring

Mendocino Spring

In a TED talk by a young student named Logan LaPlante, he shared an interesting list of topics that he is studying. They are called Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes (TLCs), and they come from a psychologist named Dr. Roger Walsh. Logan is studying these things as he is homeschooled, (or “hackschooled” as he calls it). Here’s the list:

  • Exercise
  • Diet & Nutrition
  • Time in Nature
  • Contribution & Service (Giving Back)
  • Relationships
  • Recreation (Play)
  • Relaxation & Stress Management
  • Religious & Spiritual

Logan talks about including these lifestyle and mental health topics as a normal part of schooling. I don’t think that he is suggesting that we should ignore reading, writing, math, science, or social studies—just that we should maybe include some topics that are about living a healthy life, too.

Of course, when parents can determine the curriculum for their own children, it is easier to include some of the topics on this list. But many parents don’t have the expertise, training, or perhaps the desire to homeschool their children. And many cannot afford it.

For a school district with a diverse set of students, some of these topics would inspire controversy (if not the occasional lawsuit).

What topics would you add to a curriculum if it were up to you? I’d consider these (in addition to traditional topics), and probably more:

  • Learning to Learn
  • Project Management
  • Productivity
  • Personal Finance & Budgeting
  • Safety

I saw a post about Logan’s talk that implied that his ability to give a great talk was the result of his being homeschooled. While his talk is impressive, I’m guessing that Logan would be a remarkable young man if he went to public school, too. Still, I am happy for him that he has a lot of freedom as he learns.

If I had a magic wand, I’d provide more opportunities for students to learn at their own pace, regardless of where they are studying. Right now I think we tie them too much to learning a fixed set of things at a pace that might work for a few, but that mostly is too slow or too fast, depending. I’d give them more time and support when they need it and let them fly when they can. I’m pretty sure this is possible—we know how—it’s just that it would be a challenge to make it come true.


Video | LaPlante, L. (2013). Hackschooling Makes Me Happy

Article (pdf) | Walsh, R. (2011). Lifestyle and Mental Health

Post | Martino, J. (2014). When a Kid Leaves Traditional Education

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